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India’s space agency ISRO on Thursday, March 29, successfully launched the GSAT-6A communication satellite using its heavy rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F08).

The GSLV rocket launched into the sky at 4.56 p.m., from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, and the 49.1 metre tall rocket, weighing 415.6 tonne, slung the two tonne satellite into the intended orbit 17.46 minutes into its flight, said media reports.

The satellite would to provide mobile communication applications in S-band in five spot beams and C-band in one beam during its 10-year life span.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said that the GSAT-6A was similar to the GSAT-6 put into orbit in 2015.

GSAT-6A has a six-metre wide antenna that would unfurl once it is in space. The antenna, meant for S-band communication, is three times broader than those generally used in ISRO satellite. This feature will enable the satellite to provide mobile communication for the country through handheld ground terminals. The smaller antenna in other communication satellites require larger ground stations.

While GSAT-6A will complement GSAT-6, ISRO sources said the satellite would also provide services to the Indian Armed Forces.

The space agency tested certain improved critical systems in the launch vehicle — GSLV Mk-II — that may eventually be used in its future missions, including the country’s second lunar mission.

It was the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle’s 12th flight and sixth with indigenous cryogenic upper stage.

The GSLV is a three stage/engine rocket. The core of first stage is fired with solid fuel while the four strap-on motors by liquid fuel. The second stage is the liquid fuel-propelled and the third is the cryogenic engine.

According to ISRO, two improvements — induction of next generation, high-thrust Vikas engine and electromechanical actuation system — have been made in the rocket’s second stage this time around.

Officials said any improvement done to the vehicle would be incorporated into GSLV’s future missions, including Chandrayaan-2 planned for October 2018.

One of the crucial rocket engines is the cryogenic engine, designed and developed by ISRO, and more efficient than the other two variants as it provides more thrust for every kilogram of propellant burnt.

With this successful launch, India established the performance of its GSLV-MkII rocket which in future may fetch orders from third parties for launching their satellites. India puts into orbit foreign satellites for a fee using its lighter rocket – the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) as they do not weigh much.

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